Monthly Archives: January 2019

Of Pigs and Pigeons

The plans to get Muscovy ducks is moving along. I called the farm I want to buy them from, and confirmed that they can ship to me. Actually, they can’t ship to me, because my city is too small for one-day shipping, but they can ship to the larger city right next to me, and I can go pick them up at the post office there. I think I’ll have them sent in May. The weather will be nice by then, so I can move them asap out of my house (ducklings are incredibly messy) and out into the grow-out coop.

Brand new on the agenda for this year is pigeons! I have this wonderful pen that has never really lived up to its potential. I’ve had quail in it, rabbits, and most recently, guinea pigs.

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It’s wrapped in plastic right now because of the guinea pigs. None of these critters use the entire space, ground and upper flight areas, which is a shame. So I moved the pigs into a vacant quail coop that gives them ample floor room, freeing up this pen for pigeons. And I’m planning to wire over the rooftop garden, incorporating it into the cage as even more space for the birds.

I’ve long been interested in pigeons because I love pigeons, but I have a little hawk that lives in the field next door, and I’ve watched her take down the wild pigeons in my yard. While I definitely don’t begrudge her a dinner, I don’t want her dinner to be my animals, which has kept me from getting homing pigeons. The whole reason to have those is to let them fly free, which they couldn’t safely do in around my house. But recently, I stumbled across a website about utility pigeons – pigeons raised for eggs and meat. I had pigeon when I was in London, and really liked it, and I like the idea of having animals that are useful in several ways. Plus, pigeons helped many people make it through the Great Depression – and since we’re headed toward even worse times, another source of sustainable backyard protein is highly appealing to me.

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These are king pigeons, the variety I would most likely get. They are extremely domesticated, calm, and gentle. They are heavy enough that they don’t really fly well at all, so being kept in a pen is preferred for them.

And how are the guinea pigs doing? When I first got them, all the American websites said you absolutely cannot keep them outside. The British websites were full of people doing exactly that. So of course, I went with the British way of doing things…with the knowledge I may have to bring them inside during the coldest parts of winter.

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I haven’t had to do that. I wrapped their run in plastic both to warm it up slightly, and to protect from wind and rain, and they’ve been happy as two pigs can be. When I open the door, they come running for treats.

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So yeah. These are definitely outside pigs now.  I did, as I said above, moved them to a smaller pen, also winterized in plastic for the winter.

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You can just barely see Freddie in there.

We’ve been having some decent days lately, and the past couple of weeks I’ve been out working in the garden. Last year, I moved one of the quail coops out of the garden, and where it used to be, I built a small wall out of mason blocks, and added a new garden bed behind it.

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The wall both adds a bit of privacy and definition to the garden, and it also provides some protection for the mini fireplace in front.

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I also moved a couple of cold frames behind the greenhouse, and put in a larger raised bed where the cold frames used to sit. It’s a prime “hot” area, and will be terrific for tomatoes.

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All winter long, I’ve been dumping the rabbits litter boxes into the chicken’s compost area, and now I’ve started shoveling that out into my veggie gardens. It’s great stuff – even fresh, rabbit poo won’t burn plants, and this is partly composted and full of worms and other beneficial stuff.

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Just about a month left, and I’ll be able to start planting! The garden is ready for spring. The trees are budding out, the roses are sprouting leaves, and the bluebells are green.

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Now the race begins…which will happen first: spring or the rapture of the church? Hopefully the second, but at least if I’m stuck here on earth a little bit longer, I have ducklings to look forward to!

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Beginning to Prep

One of my three goals for this year was to begin seriously prepping for a disaster/emergency. If you’re paying attention at all to what’s going on in the world – the increasing major earthquakes and other natural disasters, the stock market teetering on the edge of collapse – you know something’s coming. China’s president told his generals to prepare for war with the USA. Russia has repeatedly threatened us. There are riots and marches in the streets. It’s all happened exactly as the Bible foretold, but even if you’re not a believer, you can see the odds are extremely high of something bad happening in your part of the world, fairly soon. We had a windstorm here before Christmas that knocked out the power to some areas for three days. Now imagine the power is gone for weeks or months – our government is warning us that the power grid is old and vulnerable, and warning us to have supplies to care for ourselves for a minimum of two weeks…but possibly much longer.

With everything that’s going on, it only makes sense to prepare. Does this mean digging a bunker in the back yard and stocking it with gas masks and military-style instant meals? No, there’s a much easier way.  I’m making it a goal to put part of every paycheck into buying a few things.

First, and most important is water and food. If you’ve done nothing else, buy a few $1/gallon jugs of water from the grocery store and put them away in a closet or under your bed. Better still is to buy a few five gallon water storage containers from Walmart. If you’re using treated tap water, all you need to do is fill them. If you’re using some other water source, such as well water, you need to add eight drops of bleach per gallon to kill potential bacteria. They say you need about one gallon of water per day in an emergency to drink/cook/wash with. And don’t forget, in a pinch, you can use the water out of your water heater! Because I live in an area with abundant natural water, beside using storage containers, I also bought some water purification tablets. These are super cheap from Amazon.

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A water filter is also good. I’m checking into one of those.

For food, I do like some freeze-dried, insta-meals, but I really prefer just stocking up on things I already eat on a regular basis. Instead of buying one can of tuna fish when you go to the store, make a habit of buying at least two, one to eat, and one to store. Make this kind of shopping a regular thing, and you’ll increase your store of food easily and naturally. But if you have the money, watch for sales, and stock up! Buy things you will eat, but things that have a long shelf like. Canned meat, vegetables, and fruit, peanut butter, apple sauce, oatmeal…spend a few minutes walking through your grocery store and looking at the expiration dates. Pasta, beans, and rice are good, as are extra flour and sugar if you normally bake. And then, when you have the food in your pantry, don’t just leave it sitting there, untouched. Eat it, but replace it as you do, and put the newer purchases at the back of the shelf.

But there are a few types of food I do buy in the freeze-dried survival packages. Powered milk, for instance. I’m probably not going to eat this on a daily basis, but it has a long expiration date, and it’s worth it to buy a few boxes or tins just for an emergency. I like Thrive instant milk – it almost tastes like fresh milk, and in cooking you’d never notice. There is also powered eggs, butter, and cheese. Haven’t tried these, but these are all foods that you can’t preserve fresh, and they would be really hard to get in an emergency. Other foods that would be good to have extras of are spices, salt, baking powder, and condiments. You can actually buy the little foil packages of mayonnaise and ketchup that the restaurants use – and unlike the big jars, they don’t need to be refrigerated once opened!

Once you have some food and water, start thinking about other things you might need. If the power went off for weeks or months, what would you need? Heat, light, and a way to cook. I have a wood stove, so I’m good on heat, but having some extra blankets would not go amiss. Buy some lanterns, don’t just rely on flashlights. (Although flashlights are definitely good to have. Hang beside every door in the house. If the lights suddenly go off, you don’t want to be hunting all over to find one!) You can either get battery powered lamps (don’t forget to stock up on extra batteries)

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Or oil lamps. (And again, don’t forget extra oil, wicks, and matches!)

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Being able to cook hot food is huge. In a pinch, I could cook over my wood stove, but I also have a grill outside (and I’ve stocked up on charcoal), and I just this week purchased a camp stove. This one is good, because I can burn twigs and small pieces of fuel.

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It comes apart and packs in a very small box, which is nice.

Another thing to consider is sanitary issues. If you have no running water, and no toilet, keeping clean becomes a priority. Disease was rampant in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I bought extra bleach, anti-septic cleaning products, latex gloves, and wet wipes. I also put away a box of extra heavy duty plastic garbage bags for if things get really desperate….

Also important is a first aid kit, along with any medicine that you normally or occasionally take. Extra pain meds, allergy meds, etc. Keep as much necessary prescription medication on hand as your doctor will allow. One thing to add to your first aid kit is a bottle of super glue. In a pinch, it works to seal together wounds that otherwise would require stitches. Remember, in a true disaster, emergency services will not be available to you for days, if not weeks.

If all of this seems overwhelming, just take it one thing at a time. Every time you shop, buy a few extra things. And make sure you store all your emergency supplies (lamps, batteries, camp stove, etc) in a place where you will be able to find them. Someone I know had his power go out unexpectedly, and couldn’t remember where he had put his candles. It’s hard to rummage through closets and storage boxes when you have no light!

 

Best of 2018

Normally I do a ‘Best Books I Read in 2018’ post. This past year, however, instead of reading my usual 150+ books, I only read around 30 – and most of those were early in the year. By the end, I wasn’t really reading anything at all other than the Bible. I just can’t get interested in books or tv anymore. They just don’t seem relevant to my life anymore, and real life is so much more exciting and wonderful – how can I be drawn into fictional worlds when I know this world is about to suddenly and violently change, God is about to reveal himself to the world, and the rapture is going to happen absolutely any moment now?

So what I’m doing a modified list instead. Three best books I read this year, plus three best things I did, plus three things I’m working on this year.

Three Best Books I Read in 2018:

  1. Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik

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This woman writes so well – and these re-imagined fairy tales are utterly fantastic.

2. The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion, by Amy Fewell

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I’ve long been interested in using more herbs and essential oils, for me, and for the livestock. This book covers all of that, and makes it simple, reassuring, and practical.

3.The Rapture, by Chuck Missler

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Love Chuck Missler, loved this book. I cannot wait!

The Three Best Things I Did in 2018:

  1. Got meat rabbits. I love these critters, and they are so easy to care for, and provide so much good food. I cannot support the horrors of factory animal farms, but I can’t afford to get all my meat from sustainable, grass-fed natural farms.  This is something I can do.

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2. Started using reusable cloth pads. Seriously. These are THE BEST. I cannot believe I waited this long to try these. I mourn for all those wasted years! I’ve been using them for about 4-5 months now, and I love them more every time. My periods are so much easier to manage, less pain, no discomfort, no expense, and unlike regular disposable pads, I haven’t had a single leak or ruined a single pair of panties!

3. Started cooking from scratch more. I always did cook, but I tended to do the same old quick and easy recipes over and over.  This year, I decided to stop just pinning things to my Pinterest boards, and actually start making them. I discovered I really like cooking, and I really like trying new things. Using different cuts/types of meat, using fresh herbs, etc. The goal is to stop using canned/packaged items, and use all fresh, real foods.

Three Things for 2019:

  1. Get Muscovy ducks. I’m not going to go over this again, because I just did.ducklings-1588915_640

2. Start making my own herbal medicines. I’ve been interested in this forever, but this is the year I’m finally doing it. I already bought a bunch of dried herbs and a big bottle of vodka, and am planning to plant a lot more herbs this spring, as well as start harvesting and preserving them. I am not a big believer in modern medicine. Sure, there are times you need it, but for ordinary injuries and illnesses, you’re far better off staying far, far away from doctors and their drugs. Not to mention that the miracle age of using antibiotics is almost over. Within a very short time, they simply will not work any longer, and it will be a new age of superbugs and a return of illnesses we thought were gone forever. spices-2548653_640

3. Start seriously prepping. Everything points to terrible times coming for the USA and the world. There is going to be a complete financial collapse, and catastrophic natural disasters. Everyone who hasn’t got their head buried in the sand knows this. Everyone is warning of it – two different branches of government (military and Homeland Security) put out reports warning of things like power grid collapse and the advising citizens to have enough resources in their home for at least two weeks – and more probably, up to six months or longer. While I think most, if not all, of these things are going to hit the USA after the Rapture, there are no guarantees of that. Natural disasters and financial chaos can hit at any time, and so I am doing my best to ensure that family is prepared. Just last month, my area had an unusually severe windstorm (including a tornado – and we just don’t get tornados here!) that knocked out the power in many areas for days. My power stayed on, but one of my friends had her power off for three days. If you’re not putting away some extra groceries and needed items – and figuring out a way to provide heat and cook food, you’re not paying attention to what’s going on in the world right now. Not sure how to start? I love Survival Mom by Lisa Bedford – and also check out this video: